Xiao Xia’s stubbornness flared up. She stopped caring and started walking normally. Her pounding footsteps became louder and faster, making her feel even more rattled. She hoped something would appear in front of her. Perhaps she could find one of her companions. However, she walked for a long time without seeing anything. She wasn’t even able to tell whether she had remained in her original spot or had walked somewhere far away!
Without knowing it, she had started running. Yet she had only run for a little while when she realized it might be a trap. Making someone run in a panic until they exhausted their stamina would make it easier for their enemy to make a move.
Thinking of this, she slowed again. She forced down her nervousness and started walking like she was taking a stroll. This time, she hadn’t walked for long when she saw a building appear in front of her.
It was a five-story building located on the corner of a street. It looked like it would become a supermarket, but because no one lived here yet, it was pitch black inside. It felt like a cave to Xiao Xia.
She hesitated and decided to walk closer. Walking along its walls would give her a sense of direction. However, she might end up being looped around like those people who had been looking for the east gate. Well, at least she would have a landmark to go off of.
When her slender fingers touched the rough wall, she felt a strange sensation. There was a bit of stinging pain, making her halt her steps. She kept her hand on the wall, but a few seconds later the sensation made her leap away as if electrocuted.
The wall was hot! It was the same feeling she had when she touched the porcelain lamp stand in the inn!
Did her getting stuck in this maze of a city have something to do with the strange events that night? Why her?! Did it have something to do with what Wang Wen Ge was hemming and hawing over? What a pity the turn of events prevented him from telling her that small clue!
She suppressed her pounding heart and slowly approached the wall once more. She hesitantly put her hand back and forced herself to keep it there, concentrating on the feeling.
The wall was indeed hot. It wasn’t the warmth from baking under the sun. It was the sort of heat that would burn the hand after prolonged contact. The temperature was at least 50 degrees. The heat wasn’t the only issue. When listening carefully close by, a faint sobbing could be heard coming from the wall: so hot, so hot, let us out!
She had encountered the same thing at the inn. This proved that it hadn’t been the innkeeper or some burglar in her room. She had encountered something once again! But what can she do? And why didn’t Ah Bai sense any ghostly aura?
Thinking of Ah Bai, Xiao Xia’s anxiety increased again. Ah Bai hadn’t appeared since she left that morning. Had she lost her along the way, or did she encounter something unexpected while Xiao Xia was unconscious?!
She walked from house to house, touching the wall of each one. Without exception, she felt the same burning sensation and heard the cries deep within!
What was going on? Even if there was lingering grievance, it couldn’t be so widespread. Many, many people would have had to die and be buried throughout the entire town for that to be the case! Only a battle could have caused death on such a large scale. Was it something to do with events before the Communist Liberation again?
No, if it was caused by a battle in the past, why would Wang Wen Ge be filled with guilt? It was as if he had been involved in the evildoing! He seemed to be in his forties, at most fifties. If there really was a hidden secret, it must have happened within the last two decades.
She had to find Wang Wen Ge!
Xiao Xia pondered while she walked. After walking past yet another house, the wall in front suddenly seemed to end. She knew she was probably at the end of a street. Therefore, the walls were no longer connected. This left her with three options. One was to keep walking and see if she would either reach the plaza or one of the city gates. Of course, she might also get lost. The second option was to keep walking along the walls. That way, she would loop around and reach the door to the supermarket again. Mao Fu had said the mayor liked order so everything was designed neatly. The entire town was like a chess board. The third option was to turn back and walk the way she had come. That would of course also take her back, but it would save a lot of energy.
In the end, she decided to walk forwards. She wanted to see if the other houses were the same as the ones on this street. She also wanted to see if this space was truly so warped, taking you where the “city” wanted you to go, no matter where you went.
She took a deep breath and went forward as straight as she could. After around ten meters, she actually saw the outer wall of another house. Xiao Xia felt a wave of happiness. She hurriedly walked over reached out with her hand. However, her heart fell once more.
The same! Exactly the same! The burning and the shouts were both there! Furthermore, she had a strong feeling that all the houses here would be the same!
Impossible! There couldn’t be people who died unjustly buried beneath the entire town! Then what was going on? Was it an illusion created by whoever was hiding behind the fog?! What on earth did that person want? Revenge? Justice? Or senseless murder!
As she pondered, another gust of wind blew by her ear. It was extremely cold and extremely soft, like a breath from hell. She felt the chills all over her body, making her involuntarily rub her arm which had been injured in her fall. The fear had kept her from noticing the pain.
Not only did her arm start hurting due to the wind, her mind also became a bit clearer. The wind also scattered the thick fog around her, and several dark shadows appeared!
She couldn’t make out the features or limbs. They merely drifted there, surrounding her. Then, they reached their hands out towards her!
In a flash, she remembered those black handprints on Reporter Tan’s body. Zuo De had said it hadn’t been just one “person” who grabbed him. She immediately cried out and backed away, narrowly avoiding those ghostly hands!
She had retreated in too much of a hurry, and her back collided with the wall. Before she could straighten up, she felt the burning sensation against her back swiftly spread. A huge suction force caused her to stick firmly against the wall.
She struggled instinctively but wasn’t able to move a muscle. Only the pain in her arm told her that this was no illusion. She felt like a small bug trapped in a spider web. She watched as those black shadows slowly approached to kill her, to eat her up!
”Blessed be the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva! Save me!” She shouted in despair.
As her voice fell, the black hands made contact with her body. Then, the jade amulet around her neck swiftly emitted a gentle yellow light. Not only did the black hands reaching for her neck and chest immediately evaporate, the growing halo of light also drove away the hands reaching for her legs, and dispelled the strong suction as well!
The moment Xiao Xia got free, she desperately started running. The threat before her was more than she could mentally endure. All her reason went out the window and her only thought was to run. She knew the reason her jade amulet’s powers had increased dramatically was because every time Ruan Zhan purified it, he would add some of his own willpower. However, it wasn’t something that could be used endlessly. It would become corrupted by such fiendish places. Its powers would fade with repeated usage until it was all gone.
This amulet wasn’t just a protective charm for her. It was her most important souvenir. Unless her life was on the line, she didn’t want to use it frivolously!
Ruan Zhan! Ruan Zhan!
She called out to him in her mind as she ran wildly. She knew he wouldn’t come save her. Even though they had a strong telepathic link, they were too far apart. Even if he could sense her, how could he instantly appear somewhere he had never been before? But she still wanted to say his name. It made her feel incomparably safe. Even if she were facing death, she would feel a little more at ease.
She didn’t know how long she ran, but she felt like she was about to die of exhaustion. All of a sudden, she burst into a place without any fog.
The plaza! Like the others, she had returned here again!
As soon as she stepped into the plaza, there was a hiss under her feet and a wave of hot air rushed over. The smell of burning came from underfoot. Looking down, she saw a gust of pure smoke rising from the edges of her shoes.
The ground here was burning hot. It partially melted her shoe soles. This was no longer a plaza. It had turned into a giant furnace!
Xiao Xia leapt back in shock, but she didn’t end up in the fog again. At some point, the fog had retreated by a meter, making it possible to stand on normal ground while looking at the situation in the plaza.
The sound of water came once again from the lake.
Xiao Xia looked up and saw that Reporter Tan’s body had vanished. There were now two more water spouts in the air, one on each side of the red one!
What did it mean this time?
Xiao Xia was stunned, but before she could think it over, the door-like fog was repeatedly pushed open. The people who had been scared off by the “dead fish” had all returned!
They seemed to have been chased by something just like Xiao Xia, and were in a fluster. Their shoes ended up getting burned as well. The middle-aged man surnamed Song responsible for propaganda had lost his shoes while running. When he stepped into the plaza, his feet got scalded!
Everyone looked at each other, not knowing what to say. Their fear and unease were transmitted to each other through their eyes. Xiao Xia saw Wang Wen Ge standing close by. She was about to call to him when he was shoved by an invisible hand. He ended up staggering into the plaza.
As everyone cried out in alarm, another person suffered the same fate. It was the horse-faced person surnamed Zhang!
After falling into the plaza, they immediately got up while suffering burns, and ran towards the outer edge again. However, they had only gotten a few steps when they could no longer advance. Although they were struggling to move forwards, it was like they were tied in place by a rope. They started hopping around from the heat.
”Hot! So hot! Let us out!” Their shrill cries gave Xiao Xia the chills!
These were the same words, same tone and same cries as those in the wall. However, they weren’t coming from the depths of hell. It was a live performance!
The dead fish incident hadn’t been intended to scare those people. They just needed to be driven away for some time so this horrifying game’s true master can set up for the next scene!
With a woosh, two bursts of flame shot up from what should have been cold marble, covering the two screaming people. Xiao Xia turned away in horror. She crouched to the floor and tightly covered her ears.
She wanted to save them but was helpless. She couldn’t bear to watch others get injured. No matter the reason, this was too cruel!